“Six” is an international sensation



   Most people probably know the music of Six from TikTok where lyrics from ‘Don’t Lose Your Head’ and ‘Get Down’ are used, but this musical is so much more than that. The concept of the show is to tell the stories of King Henry VIII’s six wives: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr. 

   In an interview leading up to the Olivier Awards, Aimie Atkinson, who plays Howard, describes, “They’re coming together to tell their sides of the story.”

   The queens join forces to form a band, but they must decide who will be the lead singer. In an interview with Build London, Grace Mouat, the original West End alternate, says, “…the queen who had the most rubbish to deal with from Henry VIII will be the lead singer of the girl band.” 

   And how do they decide who had the hardest time? Each queen sings her story in a solo piece. Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss were students at Cambridge in England when they first came up with the idea for the show. It was performed by friends of theirs in 2017 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. 

   Now, the show is taking over the world—literally! There are currently casts on the West End at the Arts Theatre, a recently announced UK tour cast, a North American tour cast at Harvard, a Broadway run beginning Feb 2020, a run at the Sydney Opera House that’s currently confirmed for two months, and a production on the Norwegian Cruise Line. 

   The show has been compared to “Hamilton” as it has a historical storyline with a modern music style. What makes “Six” different? 

   Most notably, the show is a concert style, which makes it a much less formal theatre production. The fourth wall is broken throughout the show as the queens interact with the audience. 

   Millie O’Connell, the original West End Anne Boleyn, says, “Imagine if there was a Beyoncé concert and then you read your history book…you literally put them together.” 

   Another thing that makes this show so different from anything that has ever been done before is that audience members are allowed to record their final song. Because of this, there are hundreds of videos of the song ‘Megasix’ on YouTube. It’s a song after the bows that features the Ladies in Waiting all-female accompanying band and brings the six queens together. 

   Additionally, the casts so far have been relatively unknown actresses. With this, most of them only have regional performances of their resumés, but it definitely isn’t because they aren’t talented. In regard to casting, there also aren’t any boundaries due to race. 

    “Six” has been one of the most fan-involved productions. The queens are all extremely active on their social media accounts and are usually fairly good about responding to their fans. The cast occasionally does Sing-Along shows on the West End. They also did a flash mob at the Tower of London. 

    The show always goes on. With a full principle cast of only six people, the show also has alternates who can play all the queens as understudies. There have been shows where, even between three alternates and six principles, there are not enough people to go on stage. Calling up actresses from the studio album has been the most common solution, but “Six” creator Toby Marlow has also donned the band outfit and performed as Parr.

   This show is great to introduce yourself to musical theatre since the songs sound like what you’d hear on the radio as each queen has two “Queenspirations” in which her pop style is based. These artists vary from Avril Lavigne to Adele to Rihanna. 

   ‘Ex-Wives,’ the opening number which was heavily influenced by Chicago’s ‘Cell Block Tango,’ introduces each queen and begins with a play on the famous rhyme about the queens’ fates: “divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.” It also includes an introduction to each queen.

    In the end, the queens all come together and sing their “histo-remix” in ‘Six.’ In this song, they all reimagine their fates. 

    The show is full of British humor, sexual innuendo, and iconic one-liners. It runs for around 70 minutes and makes a fun history lesson in a style of music that is fun to dance around to.